May 12th Commenced

May 24th Interrupted...

Boy, was I excited!

The first drive down to DogPatch in Harvey was so smooth, and when compared to the Folly, easy, I was really looking forward to our first excursion.  The deal was that a good friend of Elsie's from work (I think we can remember that term... work?)  had moved to Vernon when he retired. His wife was throwing him a surprise 60th B'Day party, and we were determined to be there for this happy event.  Oops, I don't know if  I'm allowed to mention the actually chronological number ... but what the hey ... I can't remember how to backspace.  Sorry Roy!

Anyway, the plans were to head down to DogPatch for a few days, load up Harvey for a six week wander around BC and Alberta, and then head out timing it just so that we could be in Vernon on the appointed day.  We have signed up for the Okanagan College RV Life Styles Course in the last weekend of June -- figured that they may be able to tell us what we had bought. Given our usual careful planning this is where we figured we would end this little outing.  In between we wanted to head north to Fort St. John, where my Mom and Dad first met, and then slowly make our way south to Edmonton, Calgary, Lethbridge, Cranbrook, Osoyoos, and then back to Kelowna for the course.  We thought that by then we would know all the problems that Harvey might have, and with the help of the Life Styles Course, we could understand what had to be done. Then, on return to The "Big Smoke", Vancouver,we could have them rectified under warranty by Fraserway. Our mid August departure for "who knows where" looms ever closer.  This, anyway, was the plan.  So ... off we went ....

One of the things that has to be done in DogPatch is to have a cement pad put down that would be strong enough to take the weight of Harvey ... over 28,000 lbs, and have the existing deck modified to meet Harvey's front door configuration.  We lucked out on two levels here as, George, the Meadows construction guy, was willing to do the pad for us and Elsie's Nephew, Jason, late of Mobile Alabama, had moved to Bellingham and was willing to modify the deck for us.  Jason is a Construction Superintendent and is one of those lucky people who can do anything with his hands.  So, while we were away, DogPatch would be made ready as a comfortable "home" for Harvey.  These arrangements made, we pulled out on Thursday and headed east. 

At this point, I must comment on just how easy it was to extricate Harvey from the site.  With the Folly, it was a real chore to make sure that we did not become "up-close and personal" with the deck (been there, done that) and either one of the two deep ditches which lined the road that we pulled out on. We also had to ensure that the truck did not incurably deface the road side grass.  Harvey made it look easy!!!  There was lots of room to get out and lots of room to attach the Toad to his back bumper.  What a difference!

To get to Vernon, we thought that we would head east on Rte 20, the North Cascades Highway, to Winthrop for the first night.  For those of you who have gone this way, you know just how beautiful and narrow this road is.  It had just been opened from its winter closure the week before so we expected lots of snow on the road side.  The scenery was spectacular, and sure enough, at the highest point, we ran into several feet of snow still on the roadside.  The highest elevation approaches 6,000 ft so it was steep going to get to the pass.  Harvey worked flawlessly!  Even the steepest sections were not a concern.  But, as I have mentioned before, it is not the going up that is difficult, it is the going down...

With the truck and the Folly, going down hills was exciting.  The truck did have an Allison Transmission that did gear down for you as you descended, but you still had to work the brakes pretty hard.  With Harvey, it was a little easier.  Harvey too, has an Allison Transmission that will gear down for you, but he also has a built in exhaust brake (jake brake) on the engine.  Going down was made just a little less stressful!

We arrived in Winthrop, Thursday afternoon, and were impressed with this nice, little, faux western, town complete with wooden sidewalks and restored western style buildings.  Definitely worth another visit in the future.  But, we had to be in Vernon the next evening so we left early Friday morning to head north.

Just before we crossed the border, I learned something I didn't think that I would ever need to know.  On our Visa Card there is a limit.  The gas tank in Harvey holds 100 gallons.  We had not had to put gas into it yet so by the time we were at the Border, we were down to 1/2 tank.  Given the gas prices in the States, I thought we would fill up there before we head into the "Land of Liberalism".  At the station, I started to fill up ... and up ... and up ... until, suddenly, at $75.00 the pump turned off.  I was a little suspicious that it would take such an even amount so I asked the attendant why the pump stopped.  His reply was that most cards have this limit so if your card is stolen, no one can just keep pouring gas for all his/her friends.  Just swipe it again ... and continue..  Continue??? I was mentally figuring the costs ... 75 x 1.38 = $103.00 Cdn and it was still thirsty .... Oh Gawd!  It did take another $7.00 to fill it up so the cost was not un adjacent to $115.00 Cdn. Well, we had done a lot of driving, and much of it in the mountains so ... I guess 10 Mpg is not too bad.  The price of doing business, is a nice concept, but a little hard to swallow at first.  I'm am assured by all that the mileage will improve as the engine breaks in.  I just hope that the engine will break in before we are broke!

You might recall that Vernon was the first stop we made on the Folly's inaugural trip last year.  It has a really nice, well kept campsite, very close to town centre. We looked forward to our return visit with Harvey.  Friends of ours, and the B'Day boy Roy Jones, were also booked into the site for the weekend.  That Saturday night Roy thought that he was simply going over to his relatives for dinner.  He was totally in the dark that there would be 50 people there waiting for him to enter.  I don't know how his wife, Diane, and daughter, Lisa, and son, Colin, kept the surprise from him, but he was sure shocked.  He almost dropped the two cases of beer he was carrying.  Just wait a sec ... if he was going for a quiet dinner ... two cases of beer .... hmmmmmmm. Anyway ... he was shocked and the party was fun ... all three days of it!!!

We enjoyed becoming re-acquainted with the other couple, George and Marsha, who were also staying at the park.  The weather was good, for the most part. We had to ignore the periodic wind gusts and slight sprinkles we got, but we did manage a Monday picnic in the campsite.  The whole weekend was fun, and we were sure glad that we could get there in time to wish Roy a great B'Day.

Getting to know Harvey is a learning experience.  The longer we were driving him, the more questions I had.  The evening we were in Winthrop, the propane detector went off signaling a propane leak.  Now if you have ever smelled propane, you know that you will never forget the odour it has.  Because the gas is heavier than air, the detector is located floor level, mid coach.  We could smell nothing even if we were down on all fours with our noses pressed against the infernal detector.  It must have been an interesting sight with the two of us, on our knees and bellies sniffing to beat the band.  Should we run?  Should we turn off everything?  It was 8:00 at night and no one was around.  We were the only ones in the campsite.  Decision decisions ....

So, laziness and our incredible sense of smell won.  We ignored it.  The detector stopped and silence prevailed.  For about 2 hours.  Then again, it started up!  This time it was around 11:00 at night.  But, again, it stopped really quickly.  We were getting confused and not just a little worried.  It did not go off again for the next two days and then after our morning showers, off it went.  It was a really short burst of noise this time too.  I called the manufacturers customer service number and told them of the problem, but they said that it could be a lot of things, from hair shampoo to doggie farts, and not to worry too much.  Get it looked at when we return home.  Well OK we thought.  It has not gone off for the last 5 days so maybe they are correct.

Another quandary was the electrical setup. One of the possible causes of the propane alarm  could be a low battery.  Now Harvey has inverters, converters, generators and solar panels so it is not easy to suss out the charging system.  As most of you know, I tend to be a tad on the cheap side and there was another electrical question I had that I could not solve.  As you check in to a campsite, the nightly fee you pay covers the water, sewer and electrical costs.  Now there are two ways of heating water in Harvey, the use of propane, and the use of electricity.  Propane we pay for.  Obviously it is a no-brainer ...hook up the electricity and forget propane.  But, when I put the the electrical on and the propane off, we get cold water.  Hmmmmm yet another electrical problem.

But, we continued from Vernon to Kamloops to see Elsie's Nephew Greg who lives there.  It was good to see him, and we spent an interesting 3 days wandering around Kamloops trying to locate spots that I had known 30 years before.  The Campsite there was what you would call basic, but it had the seemingly two prerequisites of all RV campsites ... really close to a major highway ... and a major railroad.  Boy, do those coal trains ever shake the ground as the rumble past all ... all ... and I mean all night.  Add this to the semi trailer trucks who just love to use their Jake brakes in city situations, and we were ready to move north.  We had heard that Barriere, about 70 Kms north of Kamloops, had a schoolboy rodeo so we thought that it would be neat to stop there for couple of hours on our way to Valemount on the Tete Jeune (Yellowhead for you francophobes).  So Saturday, May 24th, we headed north.

On our arrival in Barriere we found a service station on the city entrance that not only carried propane, but the delivery tank was on the correct side of Harvey for us.  We pull in, park in front of the pump, stop the engine and get ready to dismount, and I do mean ... dismount.  One of the things about having a coach with a door at the very front is that there is a gaping hole in front of the passenger seat for the steps going down.  To make the passenger more comfortable, there is a slide that can be activated by the passenger, that covers the gaping hole.  So, we stop, and Elsie presses the button to retract the cover and ... nothing.  The damn thing doesn't move.  No sound .. nothing.  We can open the door, but there is a 4 foot drop to the ground.  What to do???

This panel is operated electrically, and with all the other electric problems we were experiencing, this was the last straw that broke the camel's back.  Can you imagine being somewhere north of good sense and have yet another electrical thing go sour?  Time to cut this trip short and head back to the dealer, Fraserway, for a little "TLC under warranty" for Harvey.  So, we phoned, made appointments, and instead of enjoying a schoolboy rodeo, we headed home.

Right now it is Tuesday, and the dealer just called to tell me that they had worked on Harvey all Monday and most of today to fix all the little creaks and groans.  The last thing that needed repairing was the dash air conditioning, but that can not be done until tomorrow afternoon. We are stuck here until Thursday morning.

Then, we will head back to Kamloops and resume our interrupted shakedown cruise.  I hope that the remainder of the trip will be quite boring and fun .... But, stay tuned as the RV Gods once again, I'm sure, will fix their attention on us!!!

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